Photo courtesy of Trigger Finger Visuals

Organizers Say 22nd Annual HTJ was the Hottest Yet

BY JASON A. MICHAEL

How hot was Hotter Than July? This year, it was 80-plus degrees and sunny with no rain. The weather is important, according to Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of LGBT Detroit, because "it impacts the spirit of the picnic in Palmer Park on Saturday, and normally on any given day in July, rain is a possibility. So the fact that it stayed away this year made for a great day."

Around 4,000 people attended the picnic on July 29, an event that many people look forward to at the end of a week-long celebration of black LGBT pride events hosted by LGBT Detroit.

The picnic featured live entertainment by local musicians like DJ Tone and DJ Romeo, appearances by Rico Pruitt and other models from event sponsor BlackBoyAddictionz.com, and the legendary House of Mizrahi mini-ball.

Jeynce Mizrahi hosts the legendary House of Mizrahi mini-ball during Hotter Than July. BTL Photo: Jason A. Michael

"We received great feedback on the ball," said Jeynce Mizrahi, who gave away $1,300 in cash and 15 AT&T tablets during the event. "People said it reminded them of something like Coachella. It was just a festival of celebration, freedom and love. People are already talking about they can't wait till next year."

Logan McClendon, who has been attending the picnic for the past several years said, "It's the most I've enjoyed it in all the years I've been going. I actually stayed out there the longest amount of time I ever have. I don't usually enjoy being outside, but I had fun. I got tested, I looked at all the booths and I enjoyed a little bit of the ball even at the end."

For Dontelle Smith, this was his first time at the picnic or any pride activity.

"It was a really fun experience," he said. "I would absolutely do it again. I enjoyed being around my friends and knowing there were so many people I could reach out to. It was great meeting new people."

Like Smith, Telly Harris was new to HTJ. He drove up from Louisville, Kentucky, to party with friends.

"I really loved it," said Harris. "One thing that I observed is when you go to different prides or different events, usually you'll see a big generational divide and that wasn't the case for this pride. Every generation and population had their spot there. But what was unique about it was they were mingling. It wasn't just this generation over here and this generation to the left. They were merged and participating in conversation with each other. I think that was the best part about it - seeing everyone share the experience."

Even Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan stopped by the picnic to show his support.

"It was good that our mayor made an appearance," said Taneshia McCarthy. "It made me feel like our voices are finally being heard and things are finally starting to get done."

Taneshia McCarthy. BTL Photo: Jason A. Michael

Lipscomb said the week went "well" and he noticed an increase in attendance at all the events from the candlelight vigil to the opening party co-sponsored by Equality Michigan to the fine arts reception and the annual gathering.

"Hotter Than July is the longest running gay black pride in the world," said LGBT Liaison Officer Dani Woods of the Detroit Police Department during the opening ceremony on July 25. "There's not a whole lot of things you can say 'in the world' about. This is a week-long event. It should be a year-long event. Seriously. Because this is pride and we should be proud of who we are and loving who we want to love and being out in public doing our thing. We need to show people who we are."

The week wrapped up with 100 or so people who gathered on July 30 for a worship service at Whosoever Ministry United Church of Christ and brunch at Granite City Food & Brewery in Detroit's Renaissance Center, hosted by the Billionaire Boys Club.

"The week was amazing," said Jamesion King of LGBT Detroit. "A lot of people really enjoyed themselves. It was a wonderful experience."

Check out the Hotter Than July photo gallery here.

To help LGBT Detroit plan for next year's Hotter Than July celebration, connect with the organization online at http://www.lgbtdetroit.org
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